Blog Widget by LinkWithin

« pppp! | Main | contretemps »

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I am usually a bit nervous before ordering my meal here in Paris, but that night I was all set, Je voudrais . . .
So when the waiter approached I said, very assuredly, "Je suis un polet roti" - without batting any eye, he turned to my husband and said, in perfect English, "And what would like sir?" I am now known by my husband as
"The hot chick from the US".

lyn kimber

Before moving to France, I used to meet up each week with a French girl for conversation. We were in the café, discussing my new puppy,and it seemed logical to me, as the puppy is female, to call it 'une chiotte', instead of 'un chiot'.The giggling told me that I had indeed me tromped!


My mother's gynecologist is named Dr. Papp. That one always cracks me up!

Patricia Gilbert

My high school cooking teacher was named Mrs. Kitchen.

Holly Hokanson

In the same vein (no pun intended!) as the last comment--my grandmother was in the hospital being treated by a Dr.Doctor. C'est vrai!


Many years ago, I stayed with a friend in a suburb of Rome. My first time to go anywhere without her, coming home after dark, I got off the bus at the wrong stop. Fortunately, she lived near a landmark -- a drive-in cinema -- so I found my way back by asking the first passerby for directions and then confirming them with other people as I went along, always asking if I was headed in the right direction for "il cinema collo schermo all'aria aperta" (the cinema with the screen outside). Everyone confirmed the directions without so much as a smile until the final people I asked, a couple of teenagers, who grinned and said "Si, si -- il drive in..."

On an earlier occasion, as a student, the verb "to iron" (stirare) totally escaped me in an oral translation class so, since many Italian and French words are similar, I forged hopefully on with my invented verb "repassare" at which the instructor laughed and said, "Qui non si parla fritaliano!" (We don't speak Fritaliano here).



Here is a selection of French "noms de famille" (surnames) that came from "métier" (trade, craft, profession).

-> boulanger (baker). BOULANGER
In the Middle Ages, the “boulanger” was the "fournier”. In those days, the “fournier” used to bake bread for the villagers, in a communal oven (“four”). FOURNIER, FOURNEYRON, FOURNET. ***Thank you Kristin for the lovely photo!

-> boucher (butcher). BOUCHER, BOUCHIER, BOUCHIEZ
-> potier (potter). POTIER, POTTIER, POUTHIER
-> barbier (barber). BARBIER, LEBARBIER
-> chapelier (hatter). CHAPELIER, CAPELIER, CAPLIER

-> marchand (trader, shopkeeper, stallholder). MARCHAND, LEMARCHAND
-> forestier, garde-forestier (forester). FORESTIER, FORESTIEZ, LEFORESTIER
-> charpentier (carpenter). CHARPENTIER. In the Middle Ages, the “charpentier” was “le chapuis”. CHAPUIS, CHAPUZET

-> cordonnier (cobbler, and used to be a shoemaker). CORDONNIER.
-> meunier (miller). MEUNIER, MEUGNIER, MOUNIER
-> clerc (clerk, cleric, scholar). LECLERC, LECLERCQ, DECLERCQ.

-> berger (shepherd). BERGER, BERGERET, BERGERAT.
-> chabrier (goat keeper in the Auvergne region). CHABRIER.
-> le forgeron (blacksmith). FORGERON.
In the Middle Ages, the “forgeron” was le “fèvre” (latin faber). The surname LEFÈVRE is very common in France. Also: LEFÈBVRE, LEFÈBURE, FABER, FAVRE, FABRE, FABREAU, ...


Our nearby (and very popular) urologist is one of our best resources for vasectomies. His name? Dr. Stopp.


I love James' story... so typical!... dear Monsieur Loiseau! I think such 'formalities' in France started to lose their grips in the last 3 decades of the XXth century, which doesn't mean they have completely disappeared.
“se tromper”, reflexive verb. Other examples:

-> se tromper sur les intentions de quelqu'un = to misunderstand somebody's intentions.
-> se tromper sur quelqu'un = to be wrong about somebody.
-> Il n'y a pas à s'y tromper = There is no mistake about it.
-> Qu'on ne s'y trompe pas! = Make no mistake about it!

-> Oh la la! Je me suis trompé sur toute la ligne! =
Oh dear! I am completely wrong!


Mary Story was a Theme Reader in our school district.


When I was a kid, I went to a dentist named Dr. Hollar. (No kidding.)

Our vet hired an assistant named Dr. Lamb.


Growing up I thought my mother chose people to work for us by their names because her seamstress' name was Mrs. Cutright and our dentist's name was Dr. Spitler.


My vet was called Dr. Barkan.

Julie Schorr

Hi Kristin,
My mother knew a surgeon in Kansas City, Missouri named Dr. Slaughter!!!
Julie Schorr


That's a funny story.
When I first moved to France 17 years ago, my future mother-in-law told me I could tutoie her, beings that I barely spoke French. My fiancé and I moved to Paris and I signed up for intensive French language lessons. With several months of these intensive French classes under the belt, my fiancé et I came back to Provence to visit his mother. Proud of my new language skills, I used the vous with my mother-in-law when speaking with her.
She acted strangely distant from me on this visit.
When we got back to Paris, my phone rang and my sister-in-law was on the line to ask me why I was mad at my mother-in-law. I had no idea what she was talking about. My sil pointed out that I had reverted back to vous-voie-ing my mil after almost a year of tu_toie-ing, which apparently just isn't done unless you are angry with someone. I just wanted to show my mother-in-law some respect. All of my friends in France vous'ed their mil out of respect, I just wanted to do the same.
Needless to say, we are back to the tu-toie after a few laughs and explanations.

bev s

WE have trouble keeping specialists in our city so he's no longer here, but until recently Dr. P. Goode, urologist, practised here. We still have Dr. K Wagner, veterinarian
Bev S


In New Carlisle, IN, there used to be a business called Amen Funeral Home. And not too far from there, many years ago a school was named for someone whose last name was Fail. Fail School. That surely is starting out on the wrong foot.


My first language is Russian. When in 1978 I immigrated to the USA my English was very poor. One day shopping for "four-ply tires" I asked for foreplay ones.


There are lots of stories about Americans who go to France and say (usually over a meal) that they shy away from "préservatifs."


what's une chiotte?

dorothy dufour

For many years, my husband's dentist was Dr. Friesen.

Unrelated story: When I was a bride in Quebec, using my school French and learning the local patois, my brother in law coached me in the following exchange while we were all dancing at a vielle:
Him: Comment va ton francais, Dorothe?"
Me: Oh je parle francais comme une botte sauvage!"
Translation: A torn boot.

When we returned to BC six years later, I often mentioned "le grand menage", and my unilingual mother called it " Le grand fromage".


In Canberra, Australia, there is an accountant named Ledger.


-many years ago while ice skating with my then 4 year old daughter I fell and shattered my wrist. After two weeks of agony the Dr. I'd been seeing said I needed an Orthopedic Surgeon- pins would be needed to hold my wrist bones together. So onto the list of Orthopedic surgeons in my insurance plan I went. Soon I came to the name Dr. Butcher. I made appointment straight away. How bad could he be right. "The man must have a great sense of humor", I thought. He did. My wrist is nearly as good as new.

Mary E

A man who specializes in vermiculture - he sells worm boxes and live worms - goes on the internet by the nickname of "The Worm Guy." His actual last name meshes with his profession perfectly. It's "Gach," which, as any Star Trek fan will tell you, is a Klingon delicacy consisting of worms, served live.

A French gaff story: when asked to name his profession, my husband, who had studied French for maybe two months at that point, nervously said, "Je suis ingénue," instead of "Je suis ingénieur."


John - "chiotte" is a feminine word for dog. Like in English, in the circles of dog breeders, it's usage is common. But it takes on a different tone and meaning when used in every day conversaation.


To answer John's question, une chiotte is a toilet, only it's a bit more crude, like, well, but we don't have an exact word. It still sounds better in French, but maybe only to English speakers.


(Attention:très vulgaire!) When I moved to Paris as a very young woman, not speaking french yet, I told the bank manager very seriously "Je voudrais ouvrir un compte", unfortunately I mispronounced "compte" like "con". You should have seen his large eyeballs. Be assured that I always got a very weird look every time I went to the bank after that. And it took me many months to figure it out! Deathly embarassing even 20 years later! lol = mdr

Fred Caswell

As a child sleeping overnight at Uncle Norman's farm, it was necessary to use the "out-house". As a foreigner in New Zealand very many years later and roughing it, a local explained that a "chiotte" is sometimes called "the long-drop" -- honest!


My little comment is a bit different. While in a brocante in France, I inquired about the origin of a faience plate. I was told, "St. Clement." Due to my ignorance of this faiencerie, what I heard was "Cinq le mont" and what I understood was "five the mount"


By the way....
The French word "chiottes" (from the verb "chier") is used in the pluriel. The equivalent in the UK is -> the bog.
Language mistake (back to my first years in England).
One day, I was telling a few English friends about my catching grasshoppers on the way to school, putting them in a box secretly kept in my "cartable" (satchel) and releasing them in the classroom. (Yes, I'm afraid I went through that phase)... Somebody asked me: “but how old were you at the time?" "Oh", I replied.... "I was half past seven"!
Smiles and laughters followed... which had a positive effect as it forced me, once and for all, to learn seriously the difference between “half past” (seven), time, & (seven) “and a half” (age)!


Last year on Christmas Eve, we were in Goult to see the illumination of the decorated windows and sing traditional carols. As we followed the singers, who were dressed in traditional Provencal costumes, my traveling companion decided to join in the singing of Jingle Bells. In her strong, confident voice, she sang the words she thought she had heard, "Vive la France, vive la France, vive la pomme de terre!"


In re "chiotte" My friend and I were ataying at Les Bories, a very nice hotel in Gordes, and we had treated ourselves to spa treatments. We were ushered in to the waiting room, which was so very quiet and civilized, and offered a cup of coquelicot tea. My friend, who doesn't speak French, asked what kind of tea it was. I whispered back, "Poppy." She gasped, thinking I had said "Puppy." We both laughed.

I attempted to translate the joke to a friendly woman sitting across from us, but I mispronounced "chiot" as "chiotte," which caused the lovely French lady to look extremely shocked. This bilingual punning went in short order from "poppy" to Puppy" to "poopy!"

Stephen Holmes

My son's Drama teacher is called Mrs Ham.

Eve Robillardrobill

Kristin--We have a dentist here in Madison named Dr. Bracey. eve


my friend Michael makes lists of interesting names. His last one included these

Stuart C. Law, attorney
William W. Headline, journalist
Herb Score, baseball player

Bob Fowler

A sign on the side of a building in East Los Angeles -- Dr. Ouchie, Dentist

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)